Family escapes fire in Soldotna trailer

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2003

A Soldotna family was lucky to escape an early morning fire Friday that destroyed their home in the River Terrace Trailer Park off the Sterling Highway.

Central Emergency Services firefighters responded to the 6:35 a.m. fire call and found the 1,000-square-foot mobile home fully engulfed in flames, said Fire Marshal Gary Hale.

"They did not have any smoke detectors and were really lucky to escape," Hale said.

The fire started as homeowner Billyjoe Goracke was under the home using a propane torch, attempting to thaw frozen pipes.

Wooden framing around the pipes quickly ignited and the fire spread rapidly. Goracke was able to get out in time to alert his wife and 13-year-old son, who were at home at the time. Two other children were away, attending an overnight school program.

Goracke suffered minor burns to the back of his neck and singed hair. He was evaluated by CES medics and released, according to Hale.

Firefighters responding with three fire engines, a ladder truck, two command vehicles and a medic unit had the fire out within 28 minutes.

Hale said the home, valued at $7,000 was a complete loss, as were its contents, valued at $20,000.

Hale said CES as well as the Kenai Fire Department have smoke detectors available for families who cannot afford them.

He also advised people to thaw frozen pipes with a heat source other than one with an open flame.

"A heat gun or heat tape work well," Hale said.

"Anything without an open flame is highly suggested by CES," he said.

The family has been referred to the American Red Cross for emergency shelter.

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